Mean-Variance Analysis


DEFINITION of 'Mean-Variance Analysis'

The process of weighing risk (variance) against expected return. By looking at the expected return and variance of an asset, investors attempt to make more efficient investment choices- seeking the lowest variance for a given expected return, or seeking the highest expected return for a given variance level.

Mean variance analysis is a component of modern portfolio theory, which assumes investors make rational decisions, and that for increased risk they expect a higher return.

BREAKING DOWN 'Mean-Variance Analysis'

There are two major factors in mean variance analysis: variance and expected return.

If two investments have the same expected return, but one has a lower variance, the one with the lower variance is the better choice.

By combining stocks with different variances and expected returns in a portfolio (diversification), the variance and expected return of the portfolio can be altered as the price moves of one stock may be offset by the price moves of another in the portfolio.

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  1. How reliable is the mean variance analysis of an investment?

    Mean variance analysis of an individual investment or asset can provide a historical measure of volatility for the investment. ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. Can a mean variance analysis be done for any investment?

    A mean variance analysis is performed on a group of assets in a portfolio across a certain time horizon. This analysis can ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. Can hedge fund returns be replicated?

    You can replicate hedge fund returns to a degree but not perfectly. Most replication strategies underperform hedge funds ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. Does mutual fund manager tenure matter?

    Mutual fund investors have numerous items to consider when selecting a fund, including investment style, sector focus, operating ... Read Full Answer >>
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    Financial advisors dislike target-date funds because these funds tend to charge high fees and have limited histories. It ... Read Full Answer >>
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